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Mankind's Finest Architectural Achievement
Quite simply, the Taj Mahal is stunning. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb and monument for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, it stands as a glorious epitaph to love and man's sublime ability to create. Gates open at 6 a.m, and although the sun is already up by then, it's still the best time to arrive. Grab a ticket, join the excited line, and wait until the doors finally open. And then, prepare to have your breath fairly taken away. That's what happened on my first visit some 13 years ago, and it's exactly what happened when I returned this month. The Taj, standing tall and proud above the dusty city of Agra, is spellbinding, dazzling in white marble like a like a sparkling jewel. After the initial moments of awe, take a slow walk to one side of the Taj to escape the crowds, find a quiet shady spot, and relax while taking in the sheer splendor of this beautiful oasis away from the maddening streets. The Shah knew how to build, employing the techniques of master craftsmen from across all India. Magnificent is a word that gets used a lot when discussing old world buildings, but in the case of the Taj Mahal, it truly is magnificent. I'd even go as far to say it is architectural perfection, and the number one man-made 'Wonder of the world.'